Prediction? Pain

Reporter: Clubber, what’s your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang (as poignantly played by Mr T): Prediction? Pain.

Now there’s no way to write about being in the Rockies without, at some point, tying it in to the Rocky movie franchise.

Now there have been times in the past when running, triathlons or other sports, where I felt I could beat another opponent. I’ve even felt I could “beat” a course I was familiar with. If you try to beat the mountains though, as Clubber said, you just get pain. Or, as Adrian screeched at Rocky as he was headed to Moscow to fight the big Russian, “You can’t win!” (By the way, thanks for the support there Adrian.)

The Rocky Mountains can not be beaten. They are too tall, too vast and have the staying power of….hell, a mountain.

For the first two weeks of this trip, I was “winning.” I had created a schedule to follow and was not only meeting it, despite various foot/ankle injuries, I was beating it.

Day 15 brought me back to reality. I was hiking into the Collegiate Mountains. After packing up a wet camp from the night before’s rain, I was looking at two huge climbs. Straight from camp there is a 1,400 foot climb that took me near 12,000 feet onto Mt Harvard. (That’s quite a bit higher than Mt Saint Joe or Mt Adams in Cincinnati.) between the climb and the intense sun above tree line, I was feeling worn out and it was only 9 am.

Day 15 Mountain

After a short drop, it was back up Mt Columbia and maybe a couple community college peaks as well. A long downgrade had me having a late lunch down around 9,000 feet. There was some nice camping spots there, but my schedule had me getting past Mt Yale yet that day. The climb was the steepest I’d ever encountered and I was suffering with every step. Yale’s entrance exam was more than I could handle and the mountain may have discovered my “Achilles Heel.” Ironically enough, that was my Achilles’ tendon, which was hurting worse with each step.

I finally decided that I needed to stop trying to meet an arbitrary schedule and just take what the mountains would give. Thankfully what the mountain gave me was a beautiful alpine meadow about halfway up Yale. A stream was nearby, but far enough away to not draw mosquitoes. A small grove of pine protected a flat area just right for the tent, but left in enough breeze to dry the day before’s rain off the material.

Also on the site was an old abandoned cabin. It seemed rather symbolic of the mountain’s infinite patience. The cabin was about halfway back to being reabsorbed by the mountain and Mt Yale had all the time in the world to finish the project.

Day 15 cabin